How the oldest State Open of Virginia golfer drives the ball farther now than ever before

Posted at 1:11 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 23:36:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Dick Mast, 71, is the oldest golfer to tee it up at the 2022 State Open of Virginia.

The Ohio native got his first taste of Virginia golf during his very first professional tournament in 1974.

Mast was paired with Richmond golfer Lanny Wadkins in the first two rounds of the San Diego Open that year.

"He's got like, 240 to a back pin, tough. Didn't even take a practice swing. WHACK! An unbelievable sound of this three-wood and it just hums in there like a seven iron, poof, like this and I went woah!," Mast recalled about his playing partner.

Unlike Wadkins and all the other players in that tournament, Mast still actively competes.

While Mast still has the putter he used in that initial tournament nearly 50 years ago, but the technology of the game's equipment has allowed him to remain competitive with much younger golfers.

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"I hit the ball farther now than I did in my prime on the tour," Mast said.

Mast is a walking Wikipedia of the game over the last 50 years.

When he started, golf was more about shot placement and control and less about bombing the ball as far as possible.

"It was unpopular to hit it long in our day," he said. "Nicklaus did it two times a round maybe and it would just be stupefying. Sixty yards farther than his normal hit."

Mast will sprinkle in names of the greatest golfers throughout his stories about his career. The one he tells the most comes from the 1985 TPC Championship when he played with two of the biggest names in history.

"They announce us, big crowd all around, five deep. And now!! Lee Trevino with 3,000 wins and 400 majors. And then Greg Norman with 43 million wins, and so I talked to the starter earlier, a now…Dick Mast with five children!. And the crowd loved it, they went nuts."

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That attitude and a strict focus on diet, exercise, and practice have allowed Mast to remain competitive well past any usual retirement age.

"What impresses me the most is his ability to grind it out when he doesn't have it and have a good attitude," son Jacob Mast said. "I've never seen him in 20 years of either caddying for him or playing with him or just watching him, I've never seen him just slam the trunk at the end of a round. He's able to accept the bad with the good."

Mast and his son Jacob now run Poplar Grove Golf Club in Amherst, just outside of Lynchburg.

The layout is becoming one of the most talked about courses in the Commonwealth. The Masts each give lessons and despite his decades of experience in the game, the elder Mast still trusts his son with keeping his game in the best shape possible.

"I've told him everything I've tried so he knows what doesn't work," Mast said. "Jacob has become a good teacher being out here. I think it's helped his own game."

"I think we just trust each other that we both know what we're talking about," Jacob Mast said. "It's a second set of eyes."

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Despite traveling the world and playing in some of the biggest tournaments, the Masts still place a priority on keeping the State Open as part of their yearly schedule.

"We circle it every year. It's a highlight for sure," Jacob said. "He didn't get a chance to compete in this when he was playing full time on the Tour. But in the last five or six years it's definitely been the first event on the calendar that we look at."

"A tournament is a tournament. I've always said I don't care what it is, I want to do the best that I can do. My goal is to shoot in the 60s every day, get in contention and see if I can win the tournament," Dick Mast said.

Don't miss live coverage of the State Open of Virginia at Independence Golf Club in Midlothian this Saturday and Sunday on WTVR CBS 6. You catch watch LIVE coverage on CBS 6 and Saturday and Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. Coverage will also be streaming on our Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV channels. Just search "WTVR Richmond" in your app store. Or you can attend the tournament, which is free and open to the public, in-person at Independence Golf Club.

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